Over the last few years my kids have got involved with lots of different aspects of gardening; they’ve sown seeds, harvested crops, dug, planted, watered, weeded and simply played in the mud. They love all of it, but if you asked them what their favourite gardening job was, they’d say growing plants from seeds every time.
I can understand why. There’s just something so magical about planting a seed, watering it, and watching a tiny little seedling emerge. And then there’s the relentlessly positive vibe that surrounds growing something and looking forward to that moment of flowering or harvest.
Some seeds are definitely better suited to growing with children than others. Salad is a brilliant option; it’s not very fussy, it grows really fast and it’s perfect for small-scale grow-your-own in containers. We’ve just planted our first salad seeds of the year, here’s how to do it.
To grow salad, first choose your container and fill the bottom with stones or bits of broken terracotta pot. This will help with drainage and is a good idea for pretty much all container gardening.
The first messy bit comes next, as you fill up the container with compost. Aim to stop when you’re a couple of inches from the top.
Sowing time next. If your chosen salad seeds are quite small, it’s a good idea to ask children to practice taking little pinches of seeds before you start.
Scatter your seeds over the entire surface of the compost. It’s fine if you end up with more seeds in some areas, you can thin the seedlings out later.
Next, sprinkle a little bit of compost over the top of the seeds, then give them a good drink.
Don’t forget to label your container!
And that’s it; just water the container regularly and you’ll see shoots within a week or two. Here’s our salad seedlings after two weeks:
Once your seedlings are a decent size, you can thin them out if there are clumps growing closely together. Just pull out some seedlings to leave more space for the others; kids love this job, and it will really make a difference to the amount of salad you can harvest, as each plant has less competition for the nutrients in the compost.
It’s a good idea to grow salad seeds at regular intervals so that you always have a tasty crop – which means you can have fun with this little grow-your-own project all summer.
You can find some other suggestions on ideal seeds to grow with children here. You might also find it useful to check out my post on successful seed sowing with kids, which covers the basics you need to think about before you start. And if you’d like more gardening ideas, check out my posts on 10 brilliant garden projects to do with children, 50 fun ideas to get kids gardening, quick and easy vegetables to grow and 55 easy grow your own tips, ideas and resources for lots of inspiration.
Have we inspired you to grow salad with the kids? Let me know what you’re growing in the comments!